eRider, a robotic vehicle suited to all missions
The eRider from Safran is a light tactical vehicle seating two or four, featuring partial or totally autonomous operation, fully configurable. A robotized, all-wheel-drive vehicle, it meets armed forces' emerging requirements, especially for reconnaissance missions.
A forward base in enemy territory
Here in the desert, the sand seems to get in everywhere, the days are stifling, the nights are freezing, and you really feel like you're in the middle of nowhere. A few dozen soldiers from the French army's special forces, part of an infantry regiment, had set up camp here, in a region infiltrated by rebel forces. Their role is to carry out reconnaissance missions and make sure the zone is secure, so that humanitarian aid can get through to civilians.
A dangerous reconnaissance mission
At the command center, Captain Renan has called four of his men for a quick briefing. These special forces are used to being assigned the most delicate missions. In this dark tent, they can see the photos and maps projected on a large screen.
The captain explains to his four-man commando detail:
Thanks to our actions, the rebels have lost their rear base and now control less and less territory. But there's an oasis about fifty kilometers northwest of here where their units could fall back and blend in with the civilian population to carry out all kinds of trafficking.
He points to an area on the map: “That’s where you’re going tonight. Your mission is to check on any suspicious movements around several buildings, especially the presence of pickups or similar vehicles, since that could indicate rebel activity. If the coast is clear, we can give the NGOs a green light to deliver humanitarian aid.”
Captain Renan continues: “Before going into this mission in further detail, I’m delighted to tell you that you will be using the new eRider, a robotic light tactical vehicle designed to carry four soldiers and their equipment.”
The soldiers are visibly pleased, since they were able to check out the capabilities of this ultra-modern vehicle during training exercises. It's obviously going to be a real asset, because the eRider vehicle meets all their requirements for a dangerous reconnaissance mission like this one. In fact, the eRider is not only a vehicle that can be driven normally, it can also be remotely controlled, or operate on its own.
“Now, listen carefully”, says Captain Renan.
Sergeant, you’ll be driving the eRider in manual mode, with your three passengers. You’ll cover the first 45 kilometers using your diesel engine up to Point Alpha. Since it can run at a top speed of 70 km/h in rough terrain, you should get there in about an hour. At that point, I suggest you switch to electric drive, which will decrease its heat signature and avoid attracting the attention of any rebels in the sector.
Get in and out... stealthily
The captain also reminds his men that it will be a moonless night – but that it’s out of the question to use the eRider’s running lights. However, the vehicle is of course equipped with an all-weather vision system, enabling it to get to the village very discreetly. “Once you arrive, don’t stay in your vehicle. Each of you should take a different route to get to point Bravo, north of the village. You each have an assigned route to check on any suspicious activity around the four main buildings.” He calls up a few more photos on the screen, then continues. “Once you have all regrouped at the assigned meeting place, you will evacuate via the disengagement route towards the west.”
“But captain,” asks one soldier,
how do we get back to the eRider in that case? Do we have to backtrack?
The captain answers, with a slight smile,
No, it will be safer if you don't go back that way. The eRider will be waiting for you at point Bravo, where it will drive all by itself, over a preprogrammed route using its geolocation system, a digital map and its obstacle avoidance capability.
“Why don’t we just activate its Follow-Me mode?” asks another soldier. “That way it will be right behind us, ready to use if we need it.”
“Quite simply because with its acoustic and optronic surveillance function, the eRider can detect any suspicious noise or movements in the area, and will send you a warning if there’s any danger at your meeting point,” answers Captain Renan. “If the enemy starts firing at you, you can use the fire control and observation sighting system to fire back, quickly and accurately. Don’t forget that the automatic target recognition function also allows you to see the enemy’s position on your personal screens, so you won’t have to expose yourselves to unnecessary danger.”
The captain then reminds them that, if needed, they can always activate a Homing Request, which commands the eRider, autonomously, to drive itself towards the soldier who triggered the request.
Optimized reconnaissance missions
The mission briefing ends with a last word from Captain Renan: "Once you're all back in the vehicle, I expect a complete oral report on the situation. With your secure communications system, there's no risk of your messages being intercepted. On the way home, you should start with electric drive until you're out of the zone, then switch back to the diesel engine after a few kilometers. With a range of 300 kilometers, you won't run out of fuel. Is that all clear gentlemen?"
They all nod yes, standing at attention, as their officer salutes them.
Just four hours to T-0. No time to lose, they better get ready!